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Housing resources

From: domainremoved <Karen>
Date: Wed, 15 Jan 2020 01:41:02 +0000

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Dear Mayor Taylor and City Council,

Iím very excited about the beautiful proposed BHCCL and Iím glad the city is focused on aligning resources to ensure the project will be implemented quickly and successfully.

At the same time, I believe we must increase resources dedicated to increasing housing supply and affordability, and to step up the support we offer our unhoused residents.

Iím on the housing commission, but Iím speaking for myself when I say that Menlo Park is not keeping pace with the growing challenge in housing and homelessness. The housing staff we have are excellent. They just need greater capacity. Here are some of the dynamics I observe:

  1. We are still playing catch-up from a period of ďhousing neglectĒ when no one was responsible for housing issues. This can be viewed as an opportunity because once we get on top of those issues, our efficiency will improve!

  1. In addition, every year there are new state laws that we must keep up with, and the pace of change in that regard has been increasing and will continue to ramp up. At current staffing levels I donít believe we can keep up with the state in terms of basic compliance, let alone finding and capitalizing on the opportunities that come with those changes.

Some future opportunities I hope we have the capacity to take advantage of include:

  * Significantly increasing housing stock through incentives and streamlining ADU development (this will require additional staff in the planning department as well as housing department).
  * Applying for new funding and grant opportunities for housing projects (which require staff time to plan and apply for)
  * Implementing a short term rental policy that will increase revenue and can help pay for the next opportunity.
  * Strengthening partnerships with non-profit agencies Ė for example the coordinated entry response program the county runs to support unhoused residents.

I realize resources are always constrained, but I propose for your consideration that the city has been doing well in ensuring community safety, and in order to continue doing so, should increase support to the Community Development Program, so that the police department no longer has to take on that role. Is there an opportunity to shift resources from law enforcement to community development and accomplish the same community safety objective while also increasing our pace in addressing the housing challenge for better long term outcomes?

Numerous studies have found that housing stability contributes to better mental health and increased public safety. Iíve included some links and excerpts to reports below my signature.

Many regards and thanks for your leadership,
Karen Grove

"Because housing problems are often a key underlying factor for peopleís involvement with the criminal justice system, there are ways housing interventions can help lessen criminal justice involvement. Decriminalizing homelessness, for example, can reduce rates of initial arrest and incarceration, especially for people with low-level, nonviolent offenses. A sufficient supply of affordable housing and supportive services could help people stabilize after their release from jail and reduce the likelihood of recidivism. Policymakers, advocates, and practitioners in housing and criminal justice systems can partner to promote and evaluate housing strategies that divert people from the criminal justice system."

"Lack of stable housing leads to further justice involvement and incarceration. Homelessness is criminalized in numerous jurisdictions, as people experiencing homelessness are disproportionately at risk of arrest, and as policing is sometimes the primary resource a jurisdiction deploys to address homelessness (Dupuy, Allen & HerŮandez, 2017) (Raphling, 2018)."

Homelessness can cause an "Increased chance of entering the criminal justice system"
Received on Tue Jan 14 2020 - 17:45:02 PST

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